A Dagger in the Heart
Some Things We’re Better Off Not Knowing

May 28th, 2013
by

Sometime after 1996 the US Immigration and Naturalization Service imposed a new requirement for people claiming citizenship or permanent residence through their relatives: DNA testing. This relatively new science, perfected in the last few decades, can verify a blood relationship. Unfortunately, it also has the potential to destroy families over a mere technicality.

Imagine that after 10 or 15 years of rearing a child and loving, caring and sacrificing for that child, some bureaucrat obliges you to take a test to determine whether the child is really yours.  In my opinion this is insensitive and cruel. Nobody should be put through this kind of torture.

Model of a DNA molecule. DNA testing can verify a blood relationship, but it can also destroy a family, and it is not 100 percent reliable. (Spiffistan)

Model of a DNA molecule. DNA testing can verify a blood relationship, but it can also destroy a family, and it is not 100 percent reliable. (Spiffistan)

According to the website of the US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS), which succeeded the INS, “Submitting to DNA testing does not guarantee passport/CRBA (Consular Report of Birth Abroad) issuance.” What that means is that if the DNA test shows your child is not really yours, USCIS will not inform you of that, they will simply deny the requested services. You must contact the laboratory to get a copy of the test results.

Logically, if someone applies for a passport or CRBA for a child and is rejected, they’re going to assume the reason was the DNA test. Why else would the service be denied? And what if the father or the child or both were unaware before submitting the passport or CRBA application that they were not biologically related? Such a revelation could ruin the life of the father and the child, to say nothing of the mother.

There are never any good reasons for anyone or any entity to disrupt a functional family, even if that family, unbeknownst to some of them, were living a lie. This is not a rare phenomenon. Scientists estimate 4 percent or more of all births are purposefully listed as the child of someone other than the true biological father.

Let’s do the math. As I write these words, the population clock calculates there are 315,821,650 persons living in the United States. Four percent of that would be 12,632,866 people who are using the wrong last name. Many of those people are probably living happily in their ignorance of that fact.

Now think about it, that’s enough people to replace the entire population of the state of Ohio. They could replace that of Honduras with more than 4 million to spare. Can you imagine what would happen if all these people were handed a slip of yellow paper telling them the man they thought was their father was not their father? It would be like a dagger through the heart.

Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, DNA testing is not 100 percent reliable.

In 2002 Lydia Fairchild was denied public assistance in the state of Washington when DNA evidence showed she was not related to her children. She was being prosecuted for fraud when a lawyer for the prosecution came across an article in a medical journal about a woman in Boston named Karen Keegan who was a chimera – someone possessing two sets of DNA. Fairchild was re-examined and it was determined that she too was a chimera and that the children were in fact hers.

Individuals with mosaicism also have cells with two different genotypes. These conditions may be rare, but they do occur.

Does USCIS rule out the possibility of chimerism or mosaicism before denying a passport or CRBA application on the basis of a negative DNA test? I highly doubt it. There would be no second testing as with the case of Lydia Fairchild. There would be only the ashes of a completely ruined family, thanks to USCIS.

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Some Things We’re Better Off Not Knowing

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